Originally posted on December 24, 2008. A gunman who took a 7-year-old boy hostage and was killed by police after a two-hour standoff at an El Monte Chinese restaurant was identified today as the boy’s father and a fugitive wanted for a 2004 slaying in Hawthorne, police said.
Manuel Benitez, 38, who police said barricaded himself inside the restaurant with the child, was declared dead at the eatery soon after gunshots were fired, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Liam Gallagher.
The boy also was injured in the shootout and is hospitalized in critical condition, although he does not have a life-threatening injury, police said.
Benitez, who is from Hawthorne, was wanted by police in connection with the June 2004 murder of his girlfriend, Stephanie Spears. According to police, Benitez used a dumbbell to beat Spears to death and fled with their then 3-year-old son. Benitez was a child actor who starred in several shows including Highway to Heaven.